The Old Man in the Rain

It’s raining. The warning was late, so there was a scuffle—get inside, get inside, get inside. At least in the main parts of the city. The streets were mostly cleared. The rest were left for dead. Which is why she found herself inside a run down shack of a business, if it could even be called that. It looked like it had been vacated years ago, home now to only rats and mice and squirrels.

She settled down to watch the rain. It came in only a minute or two, and there was a sharp sense of relief—she made it, she survived the rain for just another day. There was a raggedy man outside, though, that was not so lucky. Probably a drug addict, she thought. An overgrown beard, blank eyes with dilated pupils, clothes hanging off his body. Or what would be left of it.

The first drops hit his skin and his face barely registered. She wanted to look away, but couldn’t. It was a trainwreck, as the first red marks showed on his skin. The first indentations showing, as the acid began to take effect.

Could I run outside in time to same him? she wonders, but she knows the rules. No getting the others. Two fatalities are worse than one. And it’s not like you could survive the rain, anyway. It only take a few seconds, maybe a minute,  before the effects were irreversible, your skin damaged permanently. If the rain didn’t kill you first, They would come and get you. And then you just disappeared.

The skin under his eyes, over his cheeks, is showing the effects of the acid. Melting. The pain is evident on his face as his pupils contract, his hair dissolves, and he tries to save himself. He only stumbles, falls to his knees, crouches down.

He realized his mistake as his skull becomes visible, the bones in his forearms beginning to erode away. The puddles are just as bad as the stuff falling from the sky. He lifts his face to the sky, something that used to be a mouth open and screaming. His expression is unreadable, a mess of partially dissolved bone and flesh sloughing off his face.

Finally, mercifully, he stops moving. She forces herself to look away, take in the interior of the room again, memorize it. Anything to get the image out of her head. Anything.

Nothing works. It is burned into her mind.

Maybe he had found his peace in the rain, she thinks. Even though she knows that he never did.

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